Belcarra ‘n’ Briar

Side Note:  I don’t always walk in the woods but when I do I like to wear Victory rolls and high heels 🙂

I really struggled with what to make for this years competitions.  I had the idea that I was going to do something bigger, better, more complex… outrageous even.  No idea was quite enough, I had to add peplums, draft collars and linings, MAKE IT OUT OF LEATHER…….I was going to blow my own mind……then I kind of had a reality check and wondered why I was going to spend time and money I didn’t have on making something I probably wouldn’t wear all that much? So my aim for the competitions is to match my sewing wish list, with the competition theme, with either a pattern or fabric I already own.  I’ve allowed myself some purchases, of course:)

So my Separates entry, first up: Belcarra Blouse by Sewaholic

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Pattern: I am a pdf pattern fan and use them all the time, however this wasn’t the easiest one to put together considering it’s for a top with only a few pattern pieces.  The numbering system where you line up the pages just didn’t seem to flow. Aside from that I have only positive things to say about the pattern.  The pieces went together well and the sizing is true.  I used the sew-a-long (so I didn’t have to print instructions) and this was nice and clear with great pictures.  The only thing I did differently was some of my seam finishes are different to those in the sew-a-long.

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Size: I made this hot on the heels of what I am fondly calling my ‘Gingers of a 1000 muslins’ so there was no way I was in the mood to make a muslin to check the fit of this top.  My bust and waist measurements put me into the size 6 but in looking at the garments finished measurements I decided to cut a straight size 4.  I like this fit, it’s loose without being too blowsy.  I also managed to cut this size out of only 1.1m of 1.1m wide fabric!

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Fabric: A silk twill I bought from The Fabric Store just before IPM2014 so it’s taken me year to pluck up courage to use it.  I pre-(hand) washed it and while I was sewing it I treated it with a reverence I haven’t felt since my daughter was born.

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Cutting/Sewing: I’m almost still too traumatised to talk about the cutting out.  It was an evening of frustration.  I knew my rotary blade was getting dull and it refused to cut through the silk.  I think I could of stood a better chance by simply staring at the fabric and willing it to be cut.  So I had to use scissors and the result was not so pretty in places.  The very next day I came across this information about cutting silk and it made it look like a heavenly task.  Darn it, I have so much of that paper because I use it for work.  I couldn’t believe the solution to my evenings stress was 2 metres away from me THE WHOLE TIME! I used a 70/10 needle (but could probably have gone smaller) and a stitch length of 2.  I just used regular polyester thread and a new pack of pins as I didn’t have quick access to any silk ones.  I made sure to only pin in the seam allowances.  All the main seams are french seams, the neckline is hand stitched and I finished the bottom with a baby hem.  Kind of like this only not so baby. It was also really hard to press, in fact, I’m sure it keeps un-pressing itself.

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So now, if I’m going to wear a silk blouse in June in Taranaki, NZ, I needed to come up with a warmer layer to co-ordinate with it, something that would still show up a good portion of the blouse (and still allow me to wear a merino underneath it all)

Secondly: Briar by Megan Nielsen

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Pattern: I decided to do the cropped version since that would show off the blouse underneath and I added the long sleeves for warmth. Again, I used the pdf for this pattern and it pieced together well.  The pattern has a few variations and I’ve made the longer line, short sleeve t’shirt twice before.  It’s a nicely drafted pattern and a good alternative to a standard t’shirt.  I did find it awkward that the grain line marked on the sleeve piece is only about 10cm long; this made it difficult to ensure I placed the piece on grain.

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Size: Small – I decided to do a size up from the t’shirts I have made before since this will be an over-layer.  I’m only 158cm tall and this is quite cropped on me so taller or longer torso-ed people may want to add some length.

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Fabric: Ponte.  I really like the green colour (dots) on the silk twill and thought how great it would be to find that colour to make the Briar out of.  My local fabric store is tiny (maybe 50 rolls of fabric) and the owner had mentioned previously that she’d bought in some Ponte.  When I went to have a look she’d ordered 3 rolls, grey, cream and……THE PERFECT GREEN.  How serendipitous!  The fabric was easy to sew and went through my overlocker and cover stitch like a dream.

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Cutting/Sewing: Having made this twice before I probably didn’t need instructions but since Megan has just released her app I thought I’d check it out.  Ummmm, BRILLIANT!  I wish I had all my patterns available in this format. I used a 80/12 stretch needle and regular polyester thread.  I finished all seams with my overlocker and used my cover stitch on the hem, sleeve hems and neckline. All instructions were really clear.  My only uh-oh came after having overlocked on the neckband (I’ve previously used the neck-binding option) and found it was too big and had a huge gape at the front.  So my solution was to fold the band in half again to the front of the garment, making a sort of one sided binding and then coverstitch it down.  Phew, saved!

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One addition I made to the standard pattern was to add the shoulder patches.  With the pattern app, Megan has a list of customisation options and leather shoulder pads, using the round pocket piece, is one of them.  Since I didn’t have any leather on hand I came up with the idea of using the same ponte and quilting it in place.  Tip: I used electricians tape to mark the quilting lines as it pulls of the fabric easy without leaving a mark.  I then sewed small seed beads at each intersection, using bead thread (thanks to The Bead Hold for the help.)  I like how this added bit of detail mimics the dots on the silk twill blouse.

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So that is my separates entry.  I enjoyed sewing co-ordinated pieces rather than viewing pieces individually.  I’m not a huge advocate of the ‘wardrobe architect’ concept because I kind of have the view that my clothes will go together because I want them to go together and fit with whatever ‘person’ I’m going to be that day.  I’m wearing them not because the style/pattern/colours make me look good but because they make me feel good……but it is nice to have the simplicity of knowing that these items were made for each other and I can simply throw them on without a second thought.

14 thoughts on “Belcarra ‘n’ Briar

  1. These are beautiful pieces! The silk blouse is lovely with your french seams and I love the addition of the quilted shoulder pads with the beads. That is very creative and takes the top to a whole new level, well done.

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